Obama’s 30 Minute Special and McCain’s Whiney Response = Done Deal

Obama put up an uplifting 30 minute ad, and McCain responded with carping and ugliness. The ugliness is failing, even when they get a fresh piece of smear, as with the Khalidi situation. Why? People don’™t want to hear negatives. They’™ll read negatives on the internet, and reinforce their voting decision. It’™s a different story on the tube.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The Obama 30 program last night was uplifting. I remember my wife worrying, as she always does. She was afraid Obama would promise too much, or look like he expected to win too much. None of that happened. The program seemed designed to encourage supporters to get out the vote and to convince independents with a sunny and ‘œcan do’ attitude that better times are coming. (Anyone reminded of Reagan there?) The show got the ratings it should have, beating out the usual ratings of the primetime shows that normally air on the three major networks, and it was money well spent in my book. The record turnout we are hoping for will likely come about, in part because Barack Obama took time and money to step forward and talk directly to an audience of millions. I’™m proud of him more than ever.

McCain? Not so much. Not so much details about policies in his response. not any positive take on our society. No vision of the future. Indeed, there was no McCain giving a response. It showed up on the Palin/McCain web site, and in a few ads, in the form of a list of ‘œfact checks,’ each time concluding with the accusation of ‘œliar.’ The ad campaign is called ‘œJust Words,’ and it is all attack, with nothing about what McCain will do. Yeah, that’™s the wrong approach, the Bush approach to campaigning, as they note on electoral-vote.com:

What is noteworthy about this campaign is McCain’™s response. He just attacked Obama more, saying he is not ready to be commander in chief and his economic policies would undermine our national security. He is also making robocalls’“in Arizona (!)’“a state that wasn’™t thought to be competitive. What is so astounding about this strategy is that most Republicans worship Ronald Reagan, not so much due to his specific policies, but for the tone of his campaigns and administration. He was always talking about hope and ‘œMorning in America,’ rarely attacking his opponents. McCain could easily have countered Obama’™s film with an upbeat message saying: ‘œI also believe in a good future for America, but a future produced by hardworking Americans like Joe the Plumber, not by government bureaucrats.’ He didn’™t do it. Just attack, attack, attack. You can see Atwater-Rove-Schmidt writ large on McCain’™s whole campaign. Spend all your time tearing down your opponent, rather than saying what your plans are.

It is not necessarily the Obama program that seals the deal in this election. It is more likely the McCain response that has done so. Not even one’™s supporters are likely to respond well to constant attacks on the opponent rather than hopeful messages. Heck, even McCain’™s hopeful messages are whines about pollsters and ‘œthe media’ counting him out too soon. His whines begin to sound and feel like the worst I’™ve seen in my political life, like the scowling Nixon, or the smirking Rove. It is hard to understand from the McCain response why anyone would want to vote for him. Oh, McCain might make some people in his own base hate Obama a whole bunch, but to win an election you must get people to wqant to vote for You. That strategy, or simple common sense, really, is absent throughout the McCain campaign, and as a result Obama keeps whittling away at the Palin/McCain supporters.

Even the fresh attacks, like the one concerning Barack Obama’™s friendship with Rashid Khalidi are failing miserably. Jason Linkins of Huffington Post describes CNN last light, which had a McCain defender on, Michael Goldfarb, and the CNN host asked asked a couple cogent questions of the guy that he simply couldn’™t answer. According to Goldfarb, the Obama friendship with Khalidi was emblematic of many anti-semitic friends with influence on Obama. He was asked why McCain funneled money to Khalidi, and. . . crickets. He was asked to name just one other supposed anti-semite Obama supposedly hangs with and. . . crickets. The charges against Barack Obama, even the new ones, are empty.

More than that emptiness, the McCain campaign has gone full-bore negative for well over a month now. In that time Barack Obama has improved in the polls and McCain has dropped. Of course, whippings in the debates add to that movement in the polls, but that’™s because McCain was mostly negative and combative and ugly in them as well. Let’™s add in the fashion Queen, and the stupid ‘œJoe the Plumber’ fiasco, and you’™ve got a Palin/McCain campaign that can’™t shoot straight. Heck, I’™m thinking even McCain’™s base is beginning to wonder if he is qualified to lead, given how screwed up his campaign is.

How will McCain move forward from here? He’™ll run even more attack ads, as long as his money holds out, and he’™ll crank up the Robocalls, even in Arizona, his home state. Heck, if I am right and the Palin/McCain 24/7 attack campaign is the cause of its drop in the polls, then maybe, just maybe, the Obama/Biden campaign has a shot in Arizona.

This may spell the end of Rovian politics for a time. Will it be one cycle, two? I’™m beginning to think that this is a reflection of the internet phenomenon. Let’™s face it, we on the internet tend to go negative and carp and throw around snark all the time. Our fellow supporters of Obama think this is just fine. But snark in public turns off voters, and constant carping, which we expect and enjoy online, is not what we expect in commercials and in speeches and in debates. I’™ll have to think on this some more, but it is very possible the GOP inability to understand the internet has made it so that the typical GOP Rovian tactics and strategies are dying. We can all sing praises for Al Gore’™s invention, then.

HEck, even Goldwater won Arizona, didn’™t he?

Thursday, October 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

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